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Guide to voting in College

Many of the issues that have dominated the past few months––police brutality, racial injustice, climate change––are attracting young people toward the American political sphere in search of change. Protests, petitions, and calls for campus reform are being led by young people across the country. According to the PEW Research Center, 24 million members of Generation Z (those born after 1996) will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in the upcoming 2020 election, encompassing one-in-ten eligible voters. Our generation is already on track to be the most racially and ethnically diverse, as well as the most well-educated generation yet, but we may still be haunted by the consistent fact that young people do not vote as much as older generations. So let’s talk about voting! With the election quickly approaching, here are some helpful resources to help you navigate registering to vote, learning about candidates, and casting your ballot in person or through the mail. 


Registering to Vote and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot can be done online in just a few minutes. Vote.org and Vote Save America serve as “one-stop-shops” for all of your election needs. Both of these are excellent resources that easily walk you through the process of checking your registration status, registering to vote, applying for an absentee ballot, and finding your polling place if you are voting in person. This election, more people will be using mail-in ballots than ever before, but this requires you to send your ballot before election day. Every state has different rules for when they must receive mail-in ballots in relation to election day, but the safest move to ensure your vote is counted is to apply for an mail-in ballot early and send it in as soon as possible! 


Learning about Candidates

Now that you’ve made your voting plan, how do you know who to vote for? There are a variety of different offices up for election this year beyond just the office of the President. Vote411 is a nonpartisan database established by the League of Women Voters. It allows you to type in your address and then tells you what candidates are on your specific ballot and a short description of their background and policies; this includes all candidates on your ballot, including local ones. The Campus Election Engagement Project is another resource geared towards college students that has comprehensive guides on congressional candidates for each state. 


Getting Involved

If you want to do more than cast a ballot, consider volunteering with your local political party! You can register voters, volunteer as a poll worker on election day, or phone bank on behalf of candidates. One of the best things we can all do this election season is talk about it! Encourage your friends and family to vote and help them create voting plans. There are so many ways to affect change in our society, but voting is one of the most direct and empowering ways you can use your voice. Happy voting!


Shana Clapp

Bucknell '23

Shana is a senior at Bucknell University and is majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Women's & Gender Studies. She loves to read historical fiction, listen to podcasts, and sit on the Quad at sunset.
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